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LINGUIST List 20.564

Mon Feb 23 2009

Diss: Phonetics: Liu: 'Intonation Systems of Mandarin and English: ...'

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        1.    Fang Liu, Intonation Systems of Mandarin and English: A functional approach

Message 1: Intonation Systems of Mandarin and English: A functional approach
Date: 22-Feb-2009
From: Fang Liu <liufanguchicago.edu>
Subject: Intonation Systems of Mandarin and English: A functional approach
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Institution: University of Chicago
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Fang Liu

Dissertation Title: Intonation Systems of Mandarin and English: A functional approach

Dissertation URL: http://home.uchicago.edu/~liufang/FangLiu_Dissertation3.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
                            English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Alan C. L. Yu
Gina-Anne Levow
John A. Goldsmith

Dissertation Abstract:

In the currently dominant autosegmental-metrical (AM) theory of
intonational phonology, intonational forms are derived from observed
intonational contours without reference to their associated functions.
Consequently, not only the categorical status of the resulting intonational
components needs subsequent proof, but also the meaning of the intonational
contours requires explanations outside the definition of the components. In
order to counteract these problems and to better understand speech
intonation, this dissertation investigates intonation systems of Mandarin
Chinese and General American English through a functional approach -
surface forms being analyzed through underlying linguistic functions.
Specifically, the following theoretical issues are explored on the
intonation of the two languages: 1) the functional domains of lexical
tone/stress, focus, and sentence type, 2) the role that focus plays in
distinguishing sentence types, and 3) the interaction between lexical
tone/stress, focus, and sentence type.

Five experiments were conducted to address these issues. Experiments 1 and
2 investigated whether focus and sentence type could be produced and
perceived simultaneously in Mandarin, and if yes, how they would interfere
with each other. Experiment 3 aimed to identify feature vectors that are
most effective in characterizing statements and yes/no questions in
Mandarin, where decision trees were implemented in the classification of
intonational contours. Experiments 4 and 5 examined whether focus and
sentence type are realized differently through lexical items (tone vs. word
stress) in Mandarin and English, and how the results are explained by the
Parallel Encoding and Target Approximation (PENTA) model and the AM theory
of English intonation.

The main findings include: (1) statement/question intonation is realized in
parallel with focus and lexical items that also use pitch for their
encoding in both languages, and (2) the similarities and differences
between Mandarin and English intonation are essentially caused by the way
sentence type interacts with focus and lexical tone/stress in the two
languages. These findings are in support of the functional view of
intonation, according to which components of intonation are defined and
organized by individual communicative functions that are independent of
each other but are encoded in parallel.

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